Tourism’s vast appeal and its potential and incentives for investors and developers in Maharashtra are revealed by the state’s Minister of Home (Rural), Marketing, Public Health and Tourism, Ram Shinde.
What are the main assets of Maharashtra as a tourism destination?
Maharashtra is a vast canvas rich of the colorful art and culture of the state and glorious historical legacy. The diversity of offerings of the state is a delight for both Indian and international tourists, and provides plenty of opportunities to create lifelong travel memories. Scenic mountains, an untouched widespread coastline, and locations that are situated amid incomparable beauty make Maharashtra the perfect holiday destination in India.
It is an ideal destination for leisure tourists who wish to indulge in a serene and peaceful environment to relax and unwind. The state also offers wildlife enthusiasts an experience like no other with its innumerable wildlife sanctuaries and forest areas. Other than water sports, Maharashtra offers plenty of trekking opportunities to adventure buffs as well. The rich history of Maharashtra offers an extraordinary experience to history lovers. Miles and miles of scenic coastline along the Arabian Sea ensure that Maharashtra is abundant with a variety of beaches.
Enhanced regional air connectivity will definitely increase Maharashtra’s competitiveness. Besides, it will also help attract more tourists, both national and international. To boost regional air connectivity within the state, the Government of Maharashtra is willing to offer incentives to airlines. It is willing to underwrite seats of airlines to ensure viability of business proposals to connect smaller cities such as Kolhapur, Sholapur, Nasik, Aurangabad, Amravati, Nanded, Ratnagiri and Jalgaon with bigger cities such as Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur.
Tourism is one of the chief industries in Maharashtra driving economic growth and development. While measures are being taken to advance the sector and provide a more holistic experience to tourists, there is equal emphasis on sustaining the environment. The aim is to ensure that travelers get the opportunity to benefit from the diverse beauty and experiences that this state has to offer for many more generations to come.
Also, the safety of tourists in Maharashtra has always been paramount. Measures are taken on an ongoing basis to ensure that tourists can enjoy themselves in a secure and hassle-free environment.
What is the role of tourism in Maharashtra’s socio-economic development and its potential for growth in the short, middle and long run?
Tourism has become one of the major sectors in international commerce, and represents, at the same time, one of the main income sources for many developing countries, contributing 9% of the world GDP – through direct, indirect and induced impact, and accounts for $1.6 trillion of world exports (6% of world exports). Maharashtra is the leader in the country with respect to foreign tourist arrivals (20.8%) to India and one of the leading states for domestic tourist visits (7.2%).
American tourists contribute for a large chunk of inbound tourist traffic into India and specifically Maharashtra. The numbers have grown consistently over time and we are optimistic that this graph will only move upwards in the future as well.
What are Maharashtra’s tourism infrastructure needs and how are you working with the private sector to boost tourism?
The new Tourism Policy to be unveiled in 2016 has envisioned promoting Maharashtra as the numero uno tourist destination by developing a robust tourism infrastructure and facilitating investment in the sector.
Additionally, the MTDC (Maharastra Tourism Development Corporation) has upgraded its resorts in Mahabaleshwar, Valneshwar and Matheran, and also started a new resort at Mozri Point Chikaldara. The MTDC is also encouraging private players to develop potential tourist sites in the state.
How would you explain India’s ability to attract high-spending travelers and how can Maharashtra best capitalize on this opportunity?
India’s appeal amongst foreign tourists has increased by leaps and bounds over the years. Today, India features amongst the top tourist destinations globally and the rise in both inbound and domestic tourist numbers is extremely encouraging.
Maharashtra has been one of the country's biggest tourist attractions with its wide arena of magnetisms. It is home to the largest inventory of tourism products that the country has to offer – five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, over 900 caves, and 350 forts, with splendid wildlife and world-class beaches to adorn.
The widening of air travel connections (both international and domestic) has provided an impetus and 2016 looks positive for India and Maharashtra’s tourism industries.